COVID-19 Reflections—Practicing Social Distancing But Getting Socially Close

Feature Article COVID-19 Reflections—Practicing Social Distancing But Getting Socially Close

In an effort to halt the fast spread of the Coronavirus disease, governments everywhere have been preaching social distancing. The understanding is that the virus moves or spreads when people move. Thus, all forms of social groupings are discouraged.

Consequently, Church meetings, funeral services, visit to family members, going to workplaces which has the potential to compromise social distancing, getting too close, physically, to relatives, friends, and colleague workers etc. are discouraged.

The irony is that, in many cases, we have become more socially close to one another today than the period prior to the exercise of social distancing and its accompanying lockdowns all over the world. Couples who felt distanced apart, due to work schedules, though living under the same roof, do now have chance to be intimate because of lockdowns. Children are now close to parents than ever because of the exercise of social distancing and lockdowns. On my part, never I have I made or received more calls from friends, relatives and acquaintances than this time of lockdown. This experience may not be peculiar to only me. This was certainly not the practice or pattern in the past. The things that hinder us from reaching one another more often in the past appear to have been tamed.

In the religious arena, some Church members are now closer to one another via phone calls or social media channels than the period where they used to meet at the church auditorium where almost no time is spent on exchanging pleasantries. In today's extended family system, it is not common to see family members physically meet together, as it used to be in the past. Hardly do you see family members or friends meet or visit one another. This has been so on the account of everybody's claim of being busy. The irony is that when one dies family members, Church members and friends are freed from being busy. It appears that acquiring material wealth for whatever reasons has occupied almost everyone and hence little emphasis placed on social ties.

However, the present condition in which the whole world finds itself shows that social ties are more important than anything that hinders it. In our present condition, the majority of society is not moving toward or close to elements that take our attention from humanness. Over the years, our works and our unschooled quest to acquire material things have overshadowed our sense of humanness. Life in the recent past has been work, work, and work all in an effort to acquire more material things to satisfy personal needs. Thus, the emphasis on work and material acquisitions at the expense of relationship has caused many people to be self-centred.

However, the COVID-19 menace and its concomitant call for social distancing and lockdowns has given us the chance to reflect about life. Presently, what is sustaining the whole humanity is relationship. Presently, our cars and works which have taken us away from our social ties are not moving but our kindness is moving. Our show of sympathy, sacrifice and empathy are giving life but our movements, contrary to the exercise of social distancing, are spreading a disease and causing death. Our communication with our social ties via phone calls and social media channels at this time, a practice contrary to our previous behaviour of always thinking about ourselves and personal interests, are making people strong and hopeful in the midst of real difficulties, fears and anxieties.

What is saving man today is relationship, care, sacrifice, empathy, sharing and love for humanity. It is obvious that all that we have sacrificed relationships to acquire have not been the answer to all our problems today, considering what relationships or society has given us at this present time. The houses we have built, the cars we have acquired, the costly dresses we have bought, the sophisticated gadgets we have acquired, are offering us little because there is no movement. What is the worth of a car if it cannot be driven out to town? What is the worth of costly dresses if they cannot be worn because we are not supposed to move out? What is the worth of rich or sumptuous food if they cannot be eaten in peace?

However, we can all attest to the fact that what has sustained our hopes at this time is getting close to friends, relatives, and people in general. We have not done this physically but through phone calls and other social media channels. We have also been sustained up to this time through the material support and motivational words and advice we receive from people who show care. This shows that we all reckon that protection, comfort, motivation and happiness essential for human survival are gained from social ties and not the material things we were all busy chasing.

The question is whether we will learn the lessons and keep to the lessons when COVID-19 battle is over. The world will never be the same if the lessons are kept and translated into practical realities. Though we all find ourselves in difficult times, we may find it worthy to ponder over the positive lessons that this period offers us than being engrossed in daily fears and worries. Excessive fear and worry have the potential to weaken our immune system, a condition which is not good for anyone at this time. It is important that we all pursue life needs but we cannot do so at the expense of relationship.

Let us keep to the preventive measures leading to our overcoming the menace. Let's help those in need. Let's be our brother's keeper. Until the last person is safe and free of the COVID-19 disease no one is free.

By Daniel Ofosu-Asamoah
[email protected]